Keeping on top of the laundry mountain: a few tips

Laundry can consume a huge amount of time when you have a family. Firstly, there’s the normal laundry of each family member, then there’s bedding, towels, swimming kit, school uniforms, muddy things from busy weekends, more muddy things from any outdoor hobbies, sports kit and so on. It is basically a never-ending cycle. At least, it is in our house.

I do have a very brief moment of satisfaction when the overflowing basket is finally empty and everything is washed, ironed and put away. Very brief that is, as I seem to blink and the basket is instantly half full again.

Now, other than everyone walking around naked, not sleeping in their beds and drip drying after a bath or shower, you might be thinking what’s the solution? Sadly I’ve not discovered that magic wand yet, but there are a few ways you can at least keep on top of the laundry. Here are a few thoughts:

Have a system

Firstly, find a system that works for you. You might find for example that washing all the bedding on the same day works for you. For me that doesn’t work as there are five beds to change, so I spread this task out a bit more, just doing one bed each day during the week.

Obviously separate lights and darks, (so that nude top doesn’t go a funny colour) most people will have lots more dark washes than lights though, so you will need to break this down further. Perhaps you separate out the school uniform and sports kits? Perhaps you have underwear and socks separate? Perhaps you have a set day for towels? Whatever the system, it must work for you.

I tend to find that breaking up the washes like this makes the sorting of wet washing, tumble drying and putting away easier. For example, if all the sports kit is together I know that none of that needs ironing so it’s just a matter of quickly folding it and getting it away.

I like to try and keep the bulk of the socks separate as they are super annoying and find their way into everything. I have a plastic tub I put all the socks in when they are dry and then I find it easier to pair them.

Don’t wash unnecessarily

When you ave children you have to be really aware of this. Some children like to change FREQUENTLY! If you’ve tried to instil in them that once they’ve worn something it needs to go in the washing basket, then you run the risk of the frequent changers adding massively to your washing pile.

It’s worth a quick look at things before they get thrown in the machine. A few extras on a regular basis can create way more washing than is necessary. Always ask can this last another day? That cold shoulder dress that’s been on an hour is not dirty.

I’m much better at this than I used be, but it’s something you have to be switched on to and it’s not always easy when you are rushing around.

Don’t let it build up

Having a totally overflowing washing basket can be rather overwhelming, so the best tip I can offer here is to adopt a little and often approach. Rather than suddenly realising that P.E. kit that’s festering at the bottom needs washing ready for tomorrow, try to keep the flow going.

Perhaps you can build it into your normal day. So, for example, when you come down in the morning, or go to bed at night, building it into your regular routine can help.

Identify the bottle necks

Without a doubt my bottle neck is the putting away of the laundry. I find that the most tedious and time consuming part of the whole laundry process. If there are lots of things to hang up like shirts and cut out dresses, this can take even more time.

I know for lots of people, the bottle neck can be the ironing. It builds up and builds up and before you know it you’ve got a small mountain that needs dealing with.

Recently I’ve been trying to tackle the putting away with the little and often approach and so far it’s working. So, identifying your bottle neck and finding a way to tackle it is worth a go.

Get everyone involved

Yes, women can do anything, but it doesn’t mean we should do EVERYTHING! Try your best to get the rest of your family involved in the whole laundry process, but work with their strengths, otherwise you run the risk of creating more work for yourself.

Try giving older children their own laundry baskets and making them responsible for bringing that down, separating into lights and darks and so on.

Younger children often enjoy loading the washing machine, so try to get them involved with that, or puling out wet washing into a basket even.

With regards to putting washing away, my eldest is really good at this, so I give her HER washing to put away. I leave it on her bed and I know she will take care putting it away, and that nice jersey dress won’t end up looking like a rag in five minutes. Sadly this doesn’t work with any other family members at the moment. When I last tried this I found things I’d carefully ironed screwed up in balls!

How do you keep on top of the laundry? Do you have any useful tips to share?

This is a collaborative post.

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